Manufacturing will continue to drive growth in Lancashire’s economy throughout the rest of 2015, says one of the county’s biggest employers.

Westinghouse, which operates a nuclear fuel manufacturing facility Springfields, near Preston, said the industry remained key to the economic health of the county by outpacing even the powerhouse service sector.

Figures from the Lancashire Quarterly Economic Survey, compiled by the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, showed orders both at home and abroad remained strong with manufacturers enjoying stronger confidence and intentions to recruit.

Westinghouse has signed up as a sponsor for one of the North West’s biggest business awards, the Be Inspired Business Awards, the BIBAs, which is open for applications for 19 prizes up for grabs at this year’s awards.

Nick Jones, Stakeholder Relations Manager said: “Manufacturing has consistently been a major employer and economic driver in Lancashire and its remains so.

“The sector finished 2014 on a high and has started this year strongly driven by improvements in the European export market with investment and recruitment intentions.

“It is crucial that we do everything we can at a local, national and international level to continue to power our manufacturing industry which provides employment and prosperity for so many in Lancashire.”

Westinghouse is one of the companies behind the UK’s nuclear renaissance with its AP1000 reactor design chosen for the new nuclear power station due to be built at Moorside, alongside the existing Sellafield site.

Its site in Lancashire manufactures fuel which drives the majority of the UK’s existing fleet of power stations and will continue to provide the fuel for any future Westinghouse reactors.

The firm will sponsor the BIBAs for another year and will be involved in the judging process which will get underway once the deadline for applications closes next Friday, April 10.

The first round of judging gets underway on May 11 with interviews carried out at the Fylde offices of awards’ organisers, the North and Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, in Blackpool.

Nick said: “The judging process which the BIBAs carries out is second to none and the first round of interviews are just the start.

“By carrying out a second round of interviews which sees the judges go ‘on tour’ to visit businesses in the running for the prizes, the BIBAs takes the process to another level.

“Not only does this mean the winners are truly the very best of the best, it provides a level of rigour which can help all entrants to look objectively at their businesses, stimulating growth and all the benefits this brings.”